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Re: screen reader testing

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 03:35:31 +0200
Message-ID: <3EA73F63.7030306@sidar.org>
To: "Alexander, Dan" <Dan.Alexander@mdx.com>
CC: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Screen readers are like browsers - there is probably a dominant one at 
any given time, but it can change pretty fast. In addition, if you code 
accoding to the quirks of product A, you are betting that you don't need 
other clients than users of product A, and that you will learn the new 
quirks when there is a new version. And new versions come out every 
month or so for some screen reader or other - much like browsers.

Testing for screen reader (and browser) compatibility is a good idea 
after you have ensured that you are working to standards, so that any 
system you haven't tested but which works better according to the agreed 
standards will still work for you. It's one thing to say that your site 
isn't easy to use with Braillesurf 1.0 because it is not capable of 
recognising modern standards. It is another to say that you can't 
actually work with standards-compliant sytems because you only coded for 
(the obsolete browsers) IE 5.5 and Netscape 4.77.

I would suggest testing with as many screen readers as you can afford, 
both with very skilled users (who can tell you a lot about how 
professionals use a screen reader), and with beginners (presumably like 
you and certainly like me) who can show what happens when a new user 
starts up for the first time. If that is too much, I would suggest 
making sure that you are meeting standards and not breaking anything for 
basic users.

just two cents worth

Charles McCN

Alexander, Dan wrote:

>I've noticed a lot of differences between screen readers in the way they
>read the content. This makes for a particularly troublesome problem in
>testing because, not only are we testing for browser compatability but also
>screen reader compatability. I was wondering if there has been any market
>research done as to which screen reader is the most commonly used? Which is
>the best to test on?
>
>I would appreciate any help you can provide.
>
>Dan Alexander
>
>  
>
Received on Wednesday, 23 April 2003 21:36:29 GMT

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